Rescission (

From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms



Panel 1: The History of the 1921 and 1974 Budget Acts


Rescission: Cancellation of budget authority previously provided by Congress.

Legislation enacted by Congress that cancels the availability of budget authority previously enacted before the authority would otherwise expire.

The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (2 U.S.C. § 683) provides for the President to propose rescissions whenever the President determines that all or part of any budget authority will not be needed to carry out the full objectives or scope of programs for which the authority was provided. Rescissions of budget authority may be proposed for fiscal policy or other reasons.

All funds proposed for rescission must be reported to Congress in a special message. Amounts proposed for rescission may be withheld for up to 45 calendar days of continuous session while Congress considers the proposals. If both chambers of Congress have not completed action on a rescission bill rescinding all or part of the amount proposed by the President for rescission in his special message within 45 calendar days of continuous session, any funds being withheld must be made available for obligation. Congress may also initiate rescissions. Such congressional action occurs for various reasons, including changing priorities, program terminations, excessive unobligated balances, offsets, and program slippage.


See also


Enhanced Rescission:

Legislative initiatives, proposed over the years, that would allow the President to withhold funds from obligation upon proposing a rescission and to continue withholding the funds unless and until Congress acts to disapprove the presidential proposal to rescind funds. The President could then veto the disapproval bill, forcing each house to muster a two-thirds majority to override the veto. This would be a reversal of current Impoundment Control Act procedures that require funds proposed for rescission to be released unless Congress approves, by law, all or part of the amount proposed to be rescinded by the President. In 1996, Congress enacted a form of enhanced rescission authority in the Line Item Veto Act, which authorized the President, after signing a bill into law, to cancel in whole any dollar amount of discretionary budget authority, any item of new direct spending, or any limited tax benefit if the President made certain determinations. The act provided that the cancellation was effective unless Congress enacted a disapproval bill into law to void the cancellation. In 1998, the United States Supreme Court in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998), held that the Line Item Veto Act violated the Presentment Clause, Article 1, Section 7, of the U.S. Constitution.


See also


Spratt Opening Statement on Expedited Rescission


Expedited Rescission:

Legislative proposals designed to ensure rapid and formal congressional consideration of rescissions proposed by the President. An essential element of an expedited rescission procedure is a prompt up-or-down vote in Congress on the President’s proposals to reduce enacted spending authority. This would prevent rescissions from being enacted solely due to absence of action. While such legislation has been proposed at various times in the past, Congress has not enacted expedited rescission procedures. (See also Impoundment; Line Item Veto.)

There are two types of impoundments:

  • Rescission means enacted legislation that reduces budget authority previously provided by law, prior to the time when the authority would otherwise expire. See section 112.18 for detailed instructions on rescission proposals by the President.
  • Deferral means any Executive action or inaction that temporarily withholds or effectively precludes the obligation or expenditure of budgetary resources with the intent of using the funds before they expire. Deferrals are permitted only to provide for contingencies, to achieve savings made possible by or through changes in requirements or greater efficiency of operations, or as specially provided by law. Deferrals are generally effected through the apportionment process.
    See section 112.4 for instructions on reports to the Congress.
  • Rescission proposals and deferrals are subject to the requirements of Title X of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, which require the President to transmit a special message to the Congress (see section 20.4(i)).

From OMB Circular A-11, Section 112—Deferrals and Presidential Proposals to Rescind or Cancel Funds (21-page PDFPDF)







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